St Joseph’s remain top of the table in the Open 3 Northside competition on 20 points after an impressive 32-6 win over Arana Hills at Warburton Park.
Led superbly by halves Isaac Gordon and Mitch Lonergan, the Saints were outstanding. Gordon for marshalling his troops around the field and Lonergan with his impressive kicking; the halves pairing were simply too good for an outclassed Arana Hills Side.
St Joseph’s first try of the afternoon to Mitch Lonergan can simply be put down to hardworking prop Luke Bowman. Bowman was unstoppable all game with his no holds barred running style that constantly ripped the Panthers defence apart throughout the game.
It was Bowman’s he-man-like running that saw him burst through the middle to find Lonergan on his inside in a well-rehearsed try.
Bowman’s hard running again saw him slip a neat pass to hooker Sam Huxtable who glided in to score unopposed besides the sticks.
With the conversion waved away, St Joeys bolted out from the blocks at 10-0.
Arana did have a few chances to score early on, but poor ball handling saw them miss the mark on three occasions. The Panthers however were not overawed by the more fancied Saints and were best served by towering fullback Dwayne Thompson, hooker Ben Skrzypa and lock Eddy Wong who at times were sensational.
But just as the Panthers seemed to be getting some momentum in their play the balls, St Joseph’s capitalised on the Panthers silly mistakes. It didn’t take long for the home side to go in again. This time after a brilliant sweeping backline movement which saw the ball fed out to replacement player Corey Randell who snuck in for another four pointer.
Lonergan masterfully converted a sensational sideline kick to see the Saints go further ahead at 16-0.
Credit must be given to the St Joseph’s supporters. The vocal crowd was marvellous. The players were feeding off the parochial locals and the Saints seemed to grow ten feet taller on their home soil. It made for an excellent afternoons day of rugby league for all in attendance.
With the hooter sounding for the halftime break, it would seem fitting that the Saints gave their supporters a little something extra and they didn’t disappoint.
A magnificent cross-field grubber kick by Lonergan saw the ball sit up nicely for hardworking lock Abraham Sila who raced in to score in the corner giving the Saints a lot of breathing space into the break at 20-0.
The second half got off to a flying start for the Panthers as they started to shorten up the Saints defence which saw a glut of hard hitting tackles take shape. A fundamental mistake on their own tryline by the Saints saw Panthers hooker Skrzypa scoop up the loose ball and go in untouched under the posts to register the visitor’s first try of the afternoon.
Neil Demnar was successful in slotting the goal with the score now reading 20-6.
With Arana showing glimpses of a resurgence, they were put to the sword once again as five-eighth Isaac Gordon lit up the crowd with some fancy footwork to go in and score a great solo try.
With the scoreline now pretty much out of reach for the brave Panthers, something should be said about their never say die attitude.
Their persistence in continually smothering the Saints in their own half nearly paid off as a dropped ball saw Panthers centre Nic Webb use his explosive speed off the mark to race away. However, he was beautifully cut down in a grass cutting tackle by Saints’ Des Chadwick that saw the Panthers three-quarter bundled into touch.
A high shot on Gordon for the Saints saw the home side gain some quality meters upfield and this would see the Joeys take great pleasure in scoring a wonderful try courtesy of winger Ben Arndt. Arndt bravely took on the powerful Arana pack and heroically placed the ball down in the corner crashing into the ingoal flag to see the home side St Joseph’s take away the magnificent win over a spirited but outclassed Arana Hills Panthers 32-6.